The other day I got an email from Ian Garrett:
Big news coming out of LA right now, well it’s not news really because nothing is official, but it’s a big step and I would like to talk to you about it. Is there some time you have to chat on the phone?
I love emails like this. What could it be, I wondered? Who was going to announce their expansive green initiative? What was it? What was it? I looked for Ian’s phone number everywhere, but couldn’t find it–we hadn’t spoken on the phone in months. I immediately emailed my number to him and told him to call anytime. My curiosity was running rampant.
And then I heard nothing. Not an email, not a peep, from Ian. Until Thursday.
“We’re looking to create an organization…called The Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts,” Ian wrote after a long explanation involving names of lawyers, artists and others that were going to help make such an organization (and its mission) possible. Among the primary goals of the Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts (CSPA) would be creating a theatrical LEED standard, developing an educational curriculum for sustainable methods in the arts, maintaining an online resource guide, and holding an annual CSPA conference.
At first glance, the idea seems to cover all the bases, from addressing the needs of today’s producing theaters, and helping them green up, to (and this is what I think may be even more crucial) examining the educational status quo of theatrical production (which routinely imbues tomorrow’s theater artists with bad, bad, “get ‘er done” habits), and creating a curriculum that can lead academic theater down a greener path–a course that would inevitably lead to a greener professional theater.
Of course, Garrett and his west coast crew does have some “competition” from Gideon Banner and his developing Green Theater Initiative, which he has spearheaded sans the endorsement of such big backers as the Center Theatre Group, or CalArts–but rather by the sweat and blood of his conviction. (Wait–I’m not demeaning the work of Ian Garrett at all here, just pointing out that I’d like to see both of these visions succeed, and Banner has been at it for quite some time now, pounding the pavement searching out those hard-to-find funding dollars.)
On the east coast, Banner has made some progress too. His start up organization, which will focus more heavily on assisting theaters take a more sustainable approach to their work and the consulting necessary to do so, already has a skeleton web site up and running (since the site is not in full swing, I won’t divulge its location–and for those resourceful web surfers out there, I don’t think you’ll find it via a google search either!). “Hopefully I’ll have something ready to go by early April,” Banner told about the GTI web site recently. Already the site is nothing if not practical, and has all the signs of being one of exceptional usefulness for theater artists looking for help in this area.
Banner was also recently on a panel on sustainability at the most recent conference of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) in NYC, and reports being pleased with the number of interested people in the audience. The leader of the panel was Terre Jones, of Wolf Trap (see the upcoming new greenList for more on Wolf Trap). Banner is certainly making in roads, and his GTI seems to be on the verge of breaking through–let’s just hope the funding comes together for him.
So, here I sit in the midwest, drooling a bit at the hard work these two coasters are tackling. I envy them in a way, but I’m just pleased to be on their list of contacts–and happy to report such progress to all of you out there trying to get greener in your own small (or big) corners of the world.